Since the 1980s, deregulation has allowed CEOs to go from making 30 times the average worker to 361. Meanwhile, median wages for the working class has completely stagnated. Income is the same today as it was 40 years ago.
So, where did this selfish mentality develop? The dog-eat-dog world where only the “strong” will survive?
Well, it came from two novels written in the 40s and 50s by Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged promoted that selfishness was a virtue and that we should ignore altruism.
At the time, coming out of World War II and the Great Depression, Americans were not interested in doing things on their own. This is why we saw one of the greatest 30-year economic periods of prosperity including the acceleration of civil rights and women’s rights, expansion of healthcare, development of highway systems…
Fast forward to today, the top eight income earners of the world now have the same amount as the bottom half of income earners in the world. Two years ago, 82% of the world’s wealth went to the top 1%. This year, 60 of America’s biggest companies paid no federal taxes. It’s been a decade since the housing market crash and no one went to jail for the illegal activity that took place.
Why do Americans continue to buy this idea of more lavish gifts for the rich?
As Noam Chomsky has poignantly pointed out, politicians continue to draw lines and highlight the differences between voters on cultural issues such as gun control and abortion. Us versus them. All the while pulling the wool over voter’s eyes.
Deregulation has changed everything. Instead, of looking around and asking, “How can I help?” instead we embrace this mindset of the Gordon Gekko mentality of “Greed is good.” We continue to see the rich become richer while the poor staying the same and affectively eliminating the middle class.
It matters because poverty changes our decision making. It matters because there is enough money in the system to share, to raise the bottom (and no we don’t need socialism to do it). It matters because when the top controls this much of the wealth, they can change the rules of the game.
The pie isn’t fixed. Somebody doesn’t have to lose in order for others to win. We are the wealthiest nation in human history.
Nobody should be working full time and not be making it.